Dwayne Phillips ' Day Book

Items I happen to view each day. Science, Techonology, Management, Culture, and of course Writing

This is my day book for this week. I have modeled this after science fiction and computer writer Jerry Pournelle's view, or as he calls it, his Day Book. I encourage you to see Jerry Pournelle's site and subscribe to his services.

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This week: April 13-19, 2009

Summary of this week:

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday

Monday April 13, 2009

I put nothing in the Daybook yesterday as I was going for 4AM to much too late. A busy day.

A webcam in the shape of the Starship Enterprise. I hope someone is getting a royalty check from this.

Why put GPS into a camera when you can put a camera into a GPS?

Myths about freelancers. I have know people who own their own businesses and loved it. I have know people who worked for someone else and loved it. I have know the opposite of both cases as well. These are different lives and they fit different people. Find what you love and do it.

I like this New York Times piece of flying cars. Many of us have been dreaming of the flying car for decades, but why? Is there a practical use? If you are rich, buy an expensive car and an expensive helicopter.

I like stories like this one where people save the history of scientific exploration. A group saved the data tapes and a tape player and are now recovering images taken my early lunar exploration vehicles.

Ah, once again the best intentions of government produce the opposite of what was desired. And some people wonder why some people cringe when we see government trying to spend a trillion dollars or so.

COBOL is approaching it 50th birthday. I thought COBOL was older than me, but I guess it is the other way around.

The new iPod shuffle has a huge profit margin as its parts cost $22. Let's all go out and buy Apple stock as they seem to know how to make money.

"Hyperlocal" the replacement for the local newspaper.

Mis-calibration of voting machines. Predictable and predicted.

The Illinois state government takes money from profitable casinos and gives it to less profitable horse racing tracks. This is somehow legal?

Here is one writer's approach to writing fiction through organization. Some fiction writers "just start writing and let's see where it goes." Both methods work for some people. As usual, learn what works for you and use it.

I love this visualization. Twenty-four hours of flickr photos geotagged and placed on the globe. Not that after a while you see the outlines of Europe and North America.

I have never seen this before. A short story drafted in a spreadsheet.

This looks like a good book of writing prompts.

The state of Maryland is bringing in more traffic cameras. The revenue is just too good to pass.

Here is more on the Obama Administration's use of warrantless wiretaps. Some feel that his position is more extreme that Bush's. Yes, governing and campaigning are not the same things.

This could be the start of the future of news reporting. The Huffington Post contributed $1.75Million to a non-profit organization to fund investigative reporting. Such reporting is one of the few things that traditional media can claim. If this takes off, there will be other funds and there will be investigative reporting without the traditional media.

One company is working on the problem of efficient use of all those parallel processor cores. I wrote software for parallel processors in 1983 using the Intel 432. Then I wrote software for a board containing 64 of Intel's i860 processors. That was all great fun and it advanced a few things as well. The challenge today is that compilers and other tools are not readily available for parallel programming. The operating systems programmers need the tools the most. I don't think there is much to be gained by revising MS Word to take advantage of eight processors.

And the U.S. State Department does its best to slow the progress of science. Sorry for my bias; I worked in an American Embassy for a couple of years.

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Tuesday April 14, 2009

Apple is updating what it sells to schools for a good, low price. This time they are updating their desktop, all-in-one iMac.

The FCC is slowly churning its way on the broadband stimulus.

The IEEE has awarded the HP-35 calculator a Milestone Award. I never had an HP-35. I used an HP-41 at work and later bought some smaller, more advanced scientific calculators - one that inverted matrices! What a blessing that was.

Jeff Atwood writes about the ageless controversy over tabs or spaces in programming.

If you have time, expertise, and patience you can modify these really small protable computers in all sorts of ways. Witness this job on a Dell machine.

Apple is preparing to sell 4 million of their next new iPhones.

I don't like this news. 83% of businesses don't plan to switch from XP to Windows 7. This could be a real mess. There must be a path to sanity.

Silicon Valley is losing (private sector) tech jobs. This bodes well for government contracts in the area as the government contractors will be able to hire many good, talented people.

And Congress moves along on passing the biggest tax in American history - also called cap and trade.

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Wednesday April 15, 2009 

I like this one - two people trying co-working in a very rural place - a small town in Alaska. Still, it shows that their is rural broadband in many places in America and that their are web workers out there.

CruchGear "test drives" a Honda exoskeleton. This is great. These things can really help people with physical ailments.

This story seems to be everywhere on the Internet - Obama hires another RIAA lawyer for the Justice Department. Now who were his friends during the campaign? Many people feel betrayed.

Google loses over $1Million a day on YouTube. Why do they keep doing that? Why not turn it off? Is this some sort of public service?

This looks interesting - an RSS reader with the appearance of a newspaper. You have to buy it and it only runs on an Mac using OS 10.5 or higher. That isn't portable when moving from computer to computer.

Intel believes that its economy has hit bottom and is rebounding.

Not so at Yahoo as more layoffs are coming.

Making electronic health records is running into existing privacy laws. It seems that one hand of the government is passing laws to stop another hand of the government. The two hands will probably meet in court.

A necktie with a video camera built in - why not?

Microsoft Office 2010 will ship in 32- and 64-bit versions. There must be something that I am missing here. I don't see the need or value of a 64-bit text editor.

Amazon is getting too big to fail. It is one third of all U.S. e-commerce.

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Thursday April 16, 2009

I spent half the day driving around the Washington D.C. beltway.

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Friday April 17, 2009

This is an "inifinite photo" of the earth. Yes, it takes a while to load, but it is worth the wait. Try it.

A simple, forgotten way for a freelancer to earn money - teach people how to do things. This is also known as "consulting."

Apple continues to sell a lot of iPhones and computers. Nevertheless, their market share fell a little. When was the last time that happened? The one thing keeping PC sales up is the really small (and less expensive) portable computers. Apple doesn't have one of those in its line.

From this report, it appears HP is one of the few winners in the first quarter of 2009. It's share grew as did its actual sales.

Even Google's revenues dropped a bit in the quarter. They are still quite profitable.

Earlier in the week, Time-Warner was going to put limits on broadband use and charge lots of money. They have changed their mind given the public outcry. That is the marketplace for you. It works when the government lets it.

Linux is still doing well in the really small portable computer market.

This report distinguishes the market choice of young single women and men. They are different, and I was suprised to see how.

It looks like Lenovo will soon be selling a portable computer with 3G built in.

Stowe Boyd writes about free trade, labor unions, and globalization. There is much government play in "free trade" that makes it not so "free." People in and out of government profit from this play and distort things. Then there is the factor of time.

The economics of a digital nomad lifestyle. For this couple, living on the move has been cheaper for the past two years.

A low-power server farm built from low-power processors. Good idea.

There is a reason why IT departments don't turn off unused PCs. It isn't a good reason, but it is a reason.

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Saturday April 18, 2009

TechDirt asks a simple yet revealing question, why don't local governments just increase the length (of time) of yellow (traffic) lights? Some governemnts entities are shortening yellow lights and putting traffic cameras. That results in more traffic tickets and more money to the local government. There is something about government employment that causes people to want to spend other peoples' money. I know, I worked in government for 28 years.

The Federal government will keep monitoring Microsoft. Let's see, give money to failing U.S. companies and bother succeeding U.S. companies. There must be something of good to this strategy that I don't understand.

The Predator C Avenger - a neat name for the next unmanned combat aircraft.

Everyone seems to be happy to criticize Twitter. Twitter has millions of users, but hasn't made any profits.

Tim O'Reilly writes about do it yourself in local areas - taxpayers doing jobs that local governments are slow to do. I think that is a great idea as long as the local governments then refund the tax money they collected but were slow to spend.

A new little desktop computer from Shuttle featuring Atom processor and Linux.

Nice, a 13-inch color epaper display.

Apple has a much higher "customer experience rating" than top brand PCs. This is not a surprise on many levels.

The end of Polaroid again. Maybe this is the last end of Polaroid?

Obama names Virginia's Chief of Technology to be his Federal CTO. I live in Virginia and have never heard of this person. I also have not seen any wonderful use of technology in Virginia. Maybe I am pre-judging. And, as people in Virginia government will tell you, it is not the state of Virginia it is the Commonwealth of Virginia. Tim O'Reilly likes the choice of person.

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Sunday April 19, 2009

Johanna Rothman writes about "sort of commiting" to a project. The results are absolutely predictable.

Become interested in something and then write about it. The interest will provide enough energy to learn the subject matter. This post has a good tip - write a list of things that you might catch your interest. Keep that list in front of you. When something related to an item on the list appears in front of you, you will be drawn to it and you will learn. This agrees with my experience.

This could be of use - an external disk drive that connects directly to the Internet. It would allow me to send receive files to my own online backup disk.

Here is a great visualization of jobs gained and lost (mostly lost). Please note that Louisiana is steadily gaining jobs. This is known as hurricane prosperity. I don't think the people of Louisiana adequately thanked the rest of America for the billions of dollars given to them after Hurricane Katrina and the over-blown news covereage.

Someone is finally going to try solar power from space.

I like this post - it is about asking bankers and others to work for $0 instead of limiting their salaries to $500K. At $0, the people would be giving of themselves. At $500K, they are underpaied (yes, some people are underpaid at $500K). Some people in some situations will give of themselves and will do a good job.

Ford Motors is hoping that blogs and tweets of 100 people driving its Fiesta will help boost the car. Did those 100 people buy the cars at regular prices? Is there any conflict of interest here? More reading - the cards are free for six months. This is a sham.

One Laptop Per Child upgrades the insides of their machine.

The government will hire hackers to be computer security experts. This will be a clash of cultures. It is unfortunate, but the big, old government culture will cruch any new thoughts coming in from the outside. Tremendous effort will be needed to stop that. I have seen this tried in vain before.

Some looks at Office 2010. It looks the same to me, but I don't pay close attention to these things.

Unemployment in Silicon Valley is 11%. That is a record of some sorts. It matches the unemployment for all of California. Perhaps other factors such as very high state taxes is partly to blame. California is not good to businesses.

I like George Will's editorial on Russia. What is happening to the Russian people is catastrophic. Their decline in population would lead one to believe that they are at war with someone.

Barack Obama's politcal base in Chicago would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of his high-speed rail plan. Politics as usual.

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